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Lady in the Water

September 2007

Lady in the Water: M Night Shyamalan's latest would probably best be described as an ensemble urban fantasy. It seems to occupy the ground that lies right at the intersection of magic, myth, and spirituality, although it's hard to say which of these it most resembles.

It has the magical elements of the non-existent and fantastic becoming real; the idea of an entire world sitting underneath and alongside ours.

It has the mythical elements of a creation story, and a set of rules, which form the foundations of both our world and others; yet, these rules are all but unknown and invisible to. It takes a visitor from older times to remind us, to awaken us.

It has the spiritual elements of redemption, of prophecy, of concealed and revealed natures and identities, of complex systems of interplay and relationship.

The above categories seem intricately interwoven. The film itself jumps back and forth --- the eponymous Lady is named at various times as a nymph, an angel, and a creature from a chinese folk-tale. Myth, spirit and magic indeed.

In addition, the film plays a lot with the idea of story; the characters navigate the main crisis of the film by the oracle of a bedtime-story folk-tale, and characters identities are doled out by the convention of contemporary narrative. There is a sting in the tail though --- it turns out that story does not always act predictably, and sometimes the obvious answer is the wrong answer. True story, the lesson goes, is not about convention or cliche, it's about listening to the moment, and to the people around you.

Also: Bryce Dallas Howard is a woman's name.

Nato commented:

So... it was good?

Matt commented:

Yah, I liked it.